Sun | Jun 7, 2020

Letter of the Day | Good job, Mr Prime Minister

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM


I have never voted, but even a cynic like me must concede that as far as politicians and state leaders go, Andrew Holness has done a pretty decent job last year.

For the first time in decades, there seems to be renewed interest in advancing CARICOM and the single market. We no longer hear the frequent horror stories of Jamaicans being discriminated against as they travel regionally. Holness seems to have used his chairmanship to kick some life into the almost-moribund regional body.

Internationally, he seems to have been a hit. No other Jamaican prime minister has had the international exposure and access afforded to Mr Holness: G7, BRICS, G20, Commonwealth and UN special assignment for Climate Financing with French President Macron are major platforms.

My cousin, who lives in London, called me to say the Jamaica PM was a rock star in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Jamaicans may not know of how Mr Holness skilfully manoeuvred during

the Windrush saga, using the Commonwealth platform to push for compensation and restoration of Windrush persons who were denied their citizenship, while at the same time not further embarrassing his host, Theresa May.

Holness, apart from being prime minister, is also the minister of economic growth and job creation, which incorporates a third of the Government. According to STATIN, 1.3 million Jamaicans are now employed - the highest level of employment since the tracking of this statistic in Jamaica. Economic growth has been low, but steady; poverty is down; business and consumer confidence remain high; housing and infrastructure development are booming.

Petrojam has been a blotch on an otherwise respectable performance. Nonetheless, the prime minister has shown careful dexterity in handling this no-win issue. Unlike such previous dramas where the antagonist escapes accountability, the prime minister followed a different script, balancing the imperatives of a narrow majority while exacting accountability. Wheatley was stripped of his ministry after a review process, has been made to reimburse for the ill-advised birthday party, and has been banished to the backbench to learn humility and pay penance through working on poverty issues.




The biggest success in my opinion, however, is the reduction in murders and violent crimes. Mr Holness has been resolute with criminals, but respectful of rights. Again, this is a tricky balancing act. In his own words, Jamaicans can be proud that for the first time in our history we have deployed state force giving them extraordinary powers, and they have not used it violently against the citizens.

In 2019, I expect the prime minister to unload some of the burdens to others and shift focus to the politics. The Opposition feels entitled to power and will be relentless. If Holness can maintain the creditable performance he has started with, and maintain the decorum and respect and dignity of government, maybe I will vote for him.